PhD position: Measuring evolution and evolvability of the vertebrate ear (Univ. of Vienna)

Apply at Vienna Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution (VDSEE)

PhD position: Measuring evolution and evolvability of the vertebrate ear (Univ. of Vienna)

Your profile:

  • MSc degree in biology, evolutionary anthropology, genetics, biostatistics, or a related field
  • Basic experience in morphometrics, biostatistics, or quantitative genetics; basic programing skills (preferably in R or Mathematica); basic knowledge of evolutionary theory and vertebrate anatomy
  • Good English skills
  • The ability to work in an international team

Project description:

The vertebrate ear is a remarkable structure. Encapsulated within a very small space and comprising the smallest bones of the vertebrate skeleton, the ear structures are key to several different senses: balance, posture control, gaze stabilization, and hearing. Also the ear’s evolutionary history stands out from that of all other skeletal elements: Despite its functional and structural homology across all vertebrates, the ear encompasses different bones in mammals, birds, and reptiles. The transformation of the primary jaw joint into the middle ear ossicles in mammals is one of the most iconic transitions in vertebrate evolution, but the drivers of this complex evolutionary trajectory remain largely unknown.

Integrated within a larger research project in the group of Philipp Mitteroecker, this PhD project addresses the evolvability (the capacity for adaptive evolution) of the ear within birds and mammals. Using state-of-the-art geometric morphometric and comparative methods, patterns of interspecific, intraspecific, and intraindividual variation of inner and middle ear structures will be compared within an evolutionary quantitative genetic framework. Part of the data are already available, but the project also involves collecting 3D landmark data from microCT scans. Depending on the applicant's interests, the project can focus on different aspects.

I am also open to own project ideas of the applicant within the fields of morphometrics, biostatistics, human evolution, or evolutionary theory.

More information: Philipp Mitteröcker

Apply@VDSEE --> choose Position "#5 Philipp Mitteroecker"

Please solely apply via this link, applications that are sent via email will not be considered.

For further information on the project, admission requirements, eligibility criteria and application process, please visit the website of the Vienna Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution (VDSEE):

Employment details:

Job grading in accordance with collective bargaining agreement: §48 VwGr. B1 Grundstufe (praedoc) with relevant work experience determining the assignment to a particular salary grade (Salary scheme). The gross monthly salary of the B1 salary group amounts to EUR 3,277.30 (for 40 hours/week).
The employment duration is 4 years. Initially limited to 1.5 years, the employment relationship is automatically extended to 4 years if the employer does not terminate it within the first 12 months by submitting a non-extension declaration (Praedoc model 2).
The selected candidates will be members of University of Vienna's Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution (VDSEE).

Job Description:

We expect the successful candidate to sign a doctoral thesis agreement within 6-12 months and to participate in research, teaching and administration. This includes:

  • Participation in research projects
  • Publications and presentations
  • Teaching of courses as defined by the collective agreement
  • Supervision of trainees and students
  • Involvement in the organization of meetings, conferences, symposiums


VDSEE is open to all early stage researchers of any nationality with a Master’s degree or equivalent and who have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
The applicant needs to hold a Master degree or equivalent in the field of the open position or in another relevant discipline entitling the researcher to embark on a doctorate. The degree certificate must be available before being accepted into the doctoral program.
The VDSEE program language is English; therefore, written and oral English proficiency is expected and essential (at least B2 level).

How to apply: details on eligibility criteria and application portfolio to be submitted are described at Application and on the submission portal Apply@VDSEE.

Working hours: 30 hours/week
Classification CBA:  §48 VwGr. B1 Grundstufe (praedoc)
Limited contract: 4 years

Job ID: 10044485

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